Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bull Trout, 6X and Craft Beer

Life is good in the Elk Valley; lots of ants of all sizes and some shading are rolling down the current seams and feeding our sweet trout.  Hooked some big fish with tiny flies on thin tippet and watched about 75% of the fish win on that.  I like working into a pod of rising fish that can see through my bullshit.  Not sure if it's the tippett or the fly selection but the last three times I've blood tied in 6 X and tied a new fly on, the target fish who said go %#*! yourself on the previous two dozen drifts ate.

These are the triumphant moments in angling that keep my excitement levels high as a guide.  Nothing like the reward after the chase and me (like most people) can't stand rejection, refusals and or being ignored.  It's hard on one's self esteem and I've rowed away dejected by savvy trout in the past and dragged that energy down the river with me like a bad curse.  But when it all happens, when all those little tricks, theories and adjustments you make end up winning, you and nature shake hands, bump knuckles and nod at each other with  gratitude.  6X does by the way snap on heavy cutts and I've left some jewellery in the faces of the Elk River Cutts.

Jim Steinmetz Charring in the Rockies

Bull Trout seem to be in pre spawn mode on some of the system and have been eating cutts on the line and grabbing streamers.  Noticed one nymphing today on an upper Elk trib and was able to stick him with a nymph.  The water levels remain really good here and our September and October are looking really good. 

We still have quite a few openings for those months but expect to fill them as the heated and low Montana trout waters have slowed down and the wise are looking north.  We here are at Freestone (well 2 of us) have decided to give the apres fish drinking activities a rest.  Three nights ago as I sat across from Joel on the kitchen table wringing out the last few drops of zinfandel into our glasses; it came to us that the recycler bin was showing breaching the rim with empty craft beer bottles as well as the odd empty bottle of  Mendoza  red =0 !!!  We agreed to give our buddy booze a week break and I must say it's damn nice waking up without feeling foggy and shakey....much easier tying blood knots these days. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Coming on Strong

Well the last blog post lacked some inspiration...wrote that after my third glass of wine and it and clearly lacked enthusiasm.  Since that post the fishing on the Elk River has picked up and we've had some epic days casting to fish rising on an assortment of mayflies and ants.  Foam lines are forming as the water slows and the fish feeding on the mayflies and ants are hanging underneath waiting for food to roll through. 

There are some big cutts in the Elk this year and they are definitely well fed.  Rowing down the clearing river and watching big lips pop through the surface to swallow flies in the glare of the sun has been heart pumping.  Feeling the spray off the line as it tightens to pierce the hook feels refreshing after the slow start in July.

The tribs have dropped and are holding good numbers of large fish, walk and wades have been producing well on most days and it makes for a nice change from pounding banks from the boat.  Water levels will remain good and judging by the amount of mayfly nymphs crawling around the riffles are September will be epic.  Still have a fair bit of room on my calendar for that period, especially later in the month.  I will be switching back and forth between the Nelson area and here as late summer hopper  fishing on the Columbia River's caddis fattened rainbows should be fun.  The Slocan will also be happening and I highly recommend that people consider fishing the West Kootenay at this time of year.  The dry fly on both those rivers is amazing.

Life is good here in the Valley, I have some of my favourite people around which makes these sorroundings even more beautiful. Blessed to be here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

...And The LIvin's Easy

Ya, it's summer and things are good.  The Elk is on simmer and droppin daily and showing definition.  The bugs, random but there; can feel the transition into terrestrials  comin'.  Trip reviews have been mixed, some good days, some days with a unanimous feeling that the Elk is fishing a bit tougher than it has in the past and really it is about time.  We've had it good for a while on the dry and this year has been showing us  a moody and perhaps more savvy population of Cutts.

That being said some good days are happening and some epic days are delivered but not to the consistency we've had in the past.  Perhaps as the terrestrials slide in we will see a better response from the trout in terms of looking up.  My guides are doing the best they can to get their people into fish in some tough situations and the response has been good.  I have total faith in the group I've gathered as guides and they are doing their best and some days the Elk shines like it has in the past but this year it seems like a different animal.

So onto the walk and wades...same thing.  Moody fisheries just reclining from high water cycles and some good some bad and in all this I can only conclude one thing.  The high water has shifted the feeding focus of the trout and they are picking there times to rise and we aim to track those times which has meant later starts for now.  Seems to work okay with the late day hatch patterns on the tribs and sometimes on the Elk.  Caddis and spinners bring in the evening stalkers.

More later but for now I need rest.  Peace to all

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sitting Through the Storm

When I first moved to Fernie in 2002 to begin my part time career as an angling guide one of the first things that I noticed was how crisp and fresh the morning air tasted.  The first few pulls of air through  the nostrils in an awakened state charged me enough to bounce up  and leave the comfort of my king sized bed with  my warm bodied girlfriend wrapped inside.  Stepping out on  the front deck you could look up to see Fernie's signature backdrop; the Three Sisters peaks.  They poked into the deepest of blue skies and you just can't help but feel the appreciation from your lungs for choosing such a healthy place to live.  Fernie's earlier years were less than impressive in that regard as coal dust from the mines of Coal Creek would sometimes cover the town.  The mines are now north and the process although larger in scale seem to be more sensitve to their sorroundings....unless you are of course a coal vein set into a mountain top, that process is quite violent and to see the upper Elk watershed on google maps is a little frightening.

Still get that refreshing  feeling as the open window pours in some fresh air and I'm happy to still be spending my summers here, rowing good people down beautiful mountain streams.  Rowing down the river has been a bit sporadic lately in terms of the angling.  Some days are slow but close out strong with caddis and small stones.  The low pressure days start well but have fished slow later in the day  as bugs and fish hang back waiting for the lowest dip in the barometer to start moving.  A few days ago Dick and Karen Adler and I sat through a hale storm in a back eddy seam and waited for the precipitation hammer to stop.  Hail and huge raindrops pounded the water for about 5 minutes and if it wasn't for the large fish that Dick had just missed I'm not sure if their patience would have endured.  It had been a slow day and I could tell that Dick had lost all faith in my abilities as a guide after countless drifts floated through prime seams producing  very little action.

When the precip stopped green drakes and PMD's were pushing through the top end of the eddy  seam and the fish began picking them out of one of the heavier seams with a few showing in the softer ones.  I knew it was drakes and stuck on one of my usual suspects, a tilt wing dun that shows up well in the low light and is usually a favourite of the Elk River Cutts.  That brought in one big fish and after a few more casts it became clear to me that they had sniffed out that imposter so I switched out to another dun pattern which got no love at all.  Three more changes and then I began to notice that the duns were bouncing through that boiling seam untouched so I decided to go flat and tied on a spent dun.  I knew Dick would have almost no chance of seeing that fly and to be honest I didn't have much either as the glare was almost metallic but I knew the bodies of the fish in that seam were large enough to tell us when they accepted the offer.

6 fish and about 20 pounds later we had pinned and landed every rising fish in that seam.  Not one was under 17 and one was just under 19.  Some beautiful specimens....all of a sudden I didn't smell so bad to Dick and after a few high fives and some thank yous to the river Gods I hoisted anchor and headed downstream to the  same kind of back eddy with a foam cluster at the top.  I tucked the boat in and told Dick to work the foam seam at the top of the pool while I retied Karens fly.  I turned around and Dick was sitting in his chair laughing with his rod arched like a bow.  He raised the fish to the surface and Karen and I were stunned while Dick just kept laughing in his chair.  We got it to the net and the 20 inch beast filled the rubber mesh and caused it to sag.  There's not many that size on the Elk and it was the biggest I've seen in a few years.  I released my new pet and I turned to Dick who was still laughing to himself and said it's not going to get any better than that.  It was probably the best hour of angling I've witnessed on the Elk and it felt good rowing out knowing we endured a heavy blast of weather to be rewarded with some heavy fish.

Dick invited me back to his condo for a martini which was about 5 ounces of straight Tanqueray gin.  Apparently I was expecting something a little more subtle cause the first sip felt like a hot poker on my throat and I double over.  Dick asked me if I was okay and that perhaps he should pour me a Shirley Temple instead.  I manned up, had a few more sips of and then added a fizz of grapefruit soda to it to tone it down.  The purist Dick was clearly not impressed

The following day was high pressure and although the fishing was a little more consistent, it was a bit off perhaps due to the added silting of the river from the intense storm.  The water is still quite high here and the most consistent lies for big fish have been soft foam lines close to the bank and it's only hatches that are bringing numbers of fish up.  The fish seem to be nymphing a lot and I'm counting on this hot weather to bring some terrestrials into the system so the trout have a new, larger food source to focus on.  In the meantime it's caddis and small stones with hope of a mayfly producing low.